Monday, March 30, 2009

Calamity got a Haircut and a Job

Calamity Jane. She loves attention, but can be full of spit and vinegar when she doesn't get her way. She's a little head strong and not afraid to go do her own thing--herd be damned. Calamity was born that way. I think she hit the ground on her feet, and she was kicking up her heels within minutes of birth. If she doesn't like her circumstances, she plays along, calculating her escape. It has happened more than once.

We have taken her everywhere since she was born--small trips, big trips. She has packed coolers with lunch, and camp gear all over creation since she turned one--all weight appropriate for her age. She usually doesn't mind and takes any noisy, clanky, flapping-in-the-breeze things we load on her back, willingly.

She's at that age to start saddle time with her. So, Saturday morning, I climbed on her back in the vacant field next door. Several times she tried to buck me off. I stayed on (she's not that talented,) but I began to wonder by her behavior if she was hating the training bit I was using. I changed to a more advanced bit and her whole attitude softened up at the hitching post.

Shoot! Lets go for a ride then, I think. I had all these plans to work her up slowly, try the arena first, get a good handle on her before going anywhere. But riding this close to home just ferments all kinds heartburn in all of my barn-sour buggars. Every animal I have is an angel on the trails, and a demon close to the farm. Maybe she'll be good with this new bit out on a trail somewhere, I contine to think.

She was...

I did go where I was least likely to fall on something painful. And I did take all the kids with me in case they needed to perform an extraction from the desert. But she was completely content to take me where ever I wanted to go out in Warner Valley. Good stops, good turns--she's almost neck reigning already. Smart little Calamity, she's like a kid with ADHD--just don't bore her with mindless tasks. Get her busy and she'll learn as she goes.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Rusty is a Dad again...

Omer Davis's mare, Desert Dancer, delivered this fine, fine John colt on 3-11-2009. I finally got the pictures. He's a friendly little fella. He was so curious and anxious for my attention, I could hardly get these photos. Fantastic MULE! They just don't come more well-built than that.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Boys Will Be Gone...

Boys and Men everywhere, a moment of silence please... ... ... This is a story about losing your boys (careful not to let her see your grimace or watery eyes.)

Few things in this world can make a grown man cry. Fewer still can knock him on his back into a primordial fetal position and make him wish for a swift, merciful death. The thought of injuring or losing ones family jewels can do it, and Ladies just don't get that. Oh, I know that they have collectively learned where to place a disabling kick. I know that they understand in a very superficial way how carefully we guard our boys. But what women will never comprehend is the way the entire universe trembles at the mere thought of testicular mutilation.

For all of you who suppose that I am jesting or reveling in jocularity, please stop it. No matter how robust our sense of humor, and no matter how great our capacity to belch out a courtesy laugh for social purposes, guys cannot take testicular humor. Doubt me? Watch what happens the next time some female blithely mentions the proverbial groin kick in a room full of guys and you will carefully notice how forcefully she penetrated their stoicism. One by one, they will eventually get back on their mental feet and the room will return to normal--but you will know that they felt a deep, universal shudder and may exhibit signs of post traumatic stress for days after.

So this morning, I have Dr. King on the phone. "I can be there at 4:00 this afternoon to get that John Mule castrated for you." says he. "Boy, I hate to do this to such a sweet little guy. I'll try to be mentally ready by then," thinks I. Chantra, washing the morning dishes, throws her chin over her shoulder and casually insists, "Ask him if he has time to do yours too."

I think I swallowed my cell phone.

Doc King came and went. Chantra watched Doc King perform the surgery on my prize mule with a keen and hopeful eye. I think I feel like my mule. Nausea, groin pain beyond mortal description, depression...and tomorrow, probably some PTS.

Thank you for your reverent and empathetic attention as you listened to my story. If I sleep on the couch tonight, its because I wanted to. Little Mule? I feel your pain...

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Honest Scrap Award

Today, we go off mule-topic to respond to a blog award that I received from Amanda's Veranda. I'm slightly uncomfortable right now as you read this. Its a man thing. Our brain boxes don't touch each other, and having a non-mule box in blog-o-world touching my mule box feels unnatural. Plus, truth telling in such a public forum is a bit personal and carries great risk for the average man. Men hate to wear it on their sleeve.

My posts here in Longears and Sourdough are mostly a cathartic stress reliever. I also write so my kids can sit around some day and reminisce about their heritage, which is easier than writing a book. So here comes this really nice blogger who wants me to tell 10 honest things about myself and then pass this award to seven other bloggers who I think deserve the compliment vis-a-vis their genius.

This is my list of Awardees in random, particular order: you all can now do the same.

Our Chaotic Clan seems to be a spider thing going on at her house.

Somewhere in Time shares some genes with me, but got more of the wit one than I.

Southern Mother Huck Finn lives there and Mom is a true patriot.

Island Family in the Desert Makes the everyday come to life in the most Alliterate way.

Perfect Moments Photography Extra-ordinary photographer

Plus 2 Singletons Has more twins than most, full of character

GoochTroop The consumate boys home.

Now for 10 undeniable truths. They are my story and I'm stickin to it...

1. I am an explorer. Not knowing what is over the next hill or around the next corner makes me uncomfortable. Every new vista is a relief to my soul. Every fresh smell and natural sound stops me in my tracks and grabs my heart.

2. I am a thrill seeker, and I love to pass it on. Everyone who knows me just said "Ya think?!" right now.

3. I am lucky, which perhaps explains why I am still alive.

4. I love to fly so much, I will crawl into anything capable of flight without a second thought. My career as a powered parachutist began by myself in a lonely alfalfa field. My only instruction was a friend waving his arms as I launched skyward. I couldn't stop crying and laughing as the world fell away and I marveled that I had to get my craft back to earth by myself. Over the next 8 years, I introduced over 1500 people to magic-carpet flight in the back seat of my own powered parachute.

5. I hate golf. Most eye doctors live in fancy houses and play golf. I live in a modest starter home on an acre with irrigation water and AG Zoning. After I leave my fancy office, I farm or explore. I would only trade it for a bigger farm and I would die inside if I had to live in a curb and guttered subdivision.

6. I hate chemical numbness. Liquor has never crossed my lips, and I fought every pain med, morphine drip, and epidural that the intensive care ward ever foisted on me. Neither trip to the intensive care ward was due to a thrill seeking activity (except I may have been speeding a little when that truck turned in front of my motorcycle.)

7. I love my job. When I help someone see for the very first time it brings tears to my eyes.

8. I love my sweet wife and her story. Her family's harrowing tale of survival in Cambodia's Killing Fields and foiled execution at the hands of the Khmer Rouge captivates me still after 20 years of marriage.

9. I love freedom. Karl Marx and his philosophy are responsible for more misery and death in this world than any other man that ever lived in it--recall the hundreds of millions who died in cultural cleansing and socialist revolutions within the past 90 years. New Hampshire's motto Live Free or Die informs my existence and reading Patrick Henry's Give Me Liberty speech makes me shout praise every time I re-read it.

10. I love the Author of it all. This is the place where words fail. There is no human language capable of communicating the gratitude I hold to the One who gave me my agency, my shot at mortality; and who alone has the power to heal every wound mortality inflicts on the human condition. I don't want to miss one inch of life, but I long for the day I get to feel His embrace. I know who He is.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Chuckwalla: BoomTown through Molly's Buckhorn Sights

I was a bit skeptical about today's Back Country Horseman group ride over the Chuckwalla trail. Chuckwalla is more of a Front Country ride. It is one of those places with lots of rules, like stay single file on the trail, and leave your dog at home unless you can keep him on a leash. As part of the Desert Preserve, they worry that our presence might disturb the Desert Tortoise. More of a back country guy, I don't pick these places myself, and I had never been on the Chuckwalla before.

The Chuckwalla trail is beautiful. Ivins, Santa Clara, and all the recent developments along the Snow Canyon Parkway meander among the blackened lava fields below the trail to the West. Pine Mountain had her freshly snow-covered head in the clouds to our East, and Spring's grasses spread their green blanket at the feet of the red, pock-marked sandstone ledges. This is Red Rock country--visually stunning with the most complementary set of contrasting colors on Earth.

The Chuckwalla trailhead is one or two blocks north of the Snow Canyon Parkway intersection just as you leave town from Bluff Street.

Corny post about Mule Fuel

For three years now, I've been hiding piles and piles of Mule crap in the poor, cement-like soil between my house and my corrals. Every time it rains, I fire up the tractor and till it in. Like magic, the mule-rich soil beckoned to my farmer DNA with its warm, earthy aroma. Spring had arrived this week, and we went corn-nuts in the soft moist soil...planting 10 sixty-foot rows of sweet corn, barefoot style.

It is the circle of life. I guess we aren't wasting anything. Feed them, ride them, and eat their @#% --sounds like a poem about re-incarnation. If we can get our Mule-fueled corn to grow, that is.

We aren't the only ones feeling spring's blush as we breathe her earthy aroma. All the mares are coming in heat. Don't be gettin any ideas after seeing my Lily-white Ass is a big Red Roan named Rusty and he is standing for select quality mares this spring. Stud Fee $500, guaranteed live foal. Must be present to win...